AfterShot Pro 3 Layers

The AfterShot Pro 3 layers manager is a powerful and unique tool to help in your digital editing projects.

The best known digital editing programs (Photoshop and PaintShop Pro) make extensive use of layers.  

Working with layers probably gives new users more fits and cold sweats than any other aspect of any digital editing program.  This is unnecessary because they really are easy to use and easy understand and hopefully this tutorial will ease any apprehension you may have about layers.

Think of a layer as a piece of plastic you can see through placed on top of an image.  Whatever you do on that piece of plastic will be visible when you look at the image but the original image will be totally unchanged.

You can add as many pieces of plastic on top of the image as you like.  You can do all kinds of adjustments to those pieces of plastic.  When they are all stacked on top the image it may be substantially different but the original image is unchanged.

AfterShot Pro 3 Layers

This is the AfterShot Pro 3 Layers manager.  Compared to some other digital editing programs, this one appears to be very simplistic - don't let it's look fool you!  Fromm top to bottom of the Layers Manager ...

  1. Top Line - A little home button to set the AfterShot Pro 3 Layer manger to its default location and the X to close the manager.

  2. Next line - the layer types (there are only two), the duplicate layer icon, the invert layer icon and the delete layer icon.

  3. The five little icons are the Hand Tool and the four Region Tools (Circle, Polygon, Curve and Brush).

  4. The main window shows all of the layers and adjustments associated with the current image.


AfterShot Pro 3 Layer Types

AfterShot Pro 3 Layers - there are only two types - PaintShop Pro has 19 different layer types!  

Adjust and Regions

The Adjust layer is where you can do any adjustments on your image (there are some adjustments that are applied to the complete image - Rotation, Straighten, Lens Distortion, Color Management and AutoLevels).

Once the Adjust Layer is selected then you need to use one of the Region Tools to decide where an adjustment will be applied.  An adjustment can be applied to the complete layer but there's no advantage to doing that because AfterShot is non-destructive of the original image, meaning you can always eliminate any or all adjustments.

So this is what to do ...

Click on the Adjust icon and then choose one of the Region Tools ...

If you're familiar with either Photoshop or PaintShop Pro then think if Regions as being very similar to selections.  There are 4 different types of Regions ...

Circle Region- click anywhere on the Adjust Layer to create a Circular region.  After setting the Circle, the Feathering, Size and Blending can be set.  To adjust the value of the feather or Size just drag the slider or, more simply, select the correct bar and use the scroll wheel on the mouse.

Polygon Region - click a starting point and then go to the next point and click until the desired Region is enclosed and then double click on the original point to close.  Hover the mouse over the line to review the size of feathering.

Curve Region- makes nice curves as you move around the area to be selected.  Hover over the line t see the feathering and double click to close the Region.

Brush Region - you can use the Brush Region tool to select and area.  The size and intensity can be set and if you make a mistake, it can be removed with the Brush minus tool.  The brush strokes will show in the color you select if you check "Show Strokes".


Working with Regions

Regions can be connected together - so if you start with the Polygon Region and miss an edge then it can be filled in with one of the other regions.

They can also be modified in a few different way ...

Add A Point (Polygon and Curve)

  1. Click the Region in the Names List.
  2. Hold the Shift Key and position the pointer where you want the new point.
  3. When the red circle appears click to set the new point.

Delete A Point (Polygon and Curve)

  1. Click the Region in the Names List.
  2. Hold the ALT Key and position the pointer where you want to delete a point.
  3. When the red circle appears click to delete the point.

Move A Point (Polygon and Curve)

  1. Click the Region in the Names List.
  2. Position the pointer over the point.
  3. When the red circle appears click and drag to a new location.

Move a Region

  1. Click the Region in the Names List.
  2. Position the pointer over a Region.
  3. Drag the Region to a new location.

An Example

I met this really friendly character one nice Saturday afternoon when I was walking around downtown.

He agreed to let me take his picture if I was willing to 'donate' to his coffee habit.  

I figured that was a good trade so we had a deal!

I like the shot but darn, that really, really white coffee cup is somewhat distracting.  

I know - it can be cropped out but this is a layers demonstration so this is a good opportunity to work with a layer and Regions

After adding an Adjust Layer to the AfterShot Pro 3 Layer Manager, I tried the circle region - not good because the top of the cup isn't round and the adjustment wasn't seamless.

The next attempt was with the curve region.  Not good - because the curves were too pronounced.

The polygon region worked well so that's what I used.

The final step with the coffee cup was to darken the mid-tones of the histogram on the Color Panel.


Here's a screenshot of the coffee cup with the polygon region and the feather area visible.

An additional adjustment (added a new layer and did some work on the eyes) and the addition of a vignette finished up our friend and here he is ...

Heal, Clone and Blemish Layer

The Heal, Clone and Blemish layer helps you remove small, distracting elements from your images. The Region tools work in a similar way to using them on an Adjust Layer.

Heal mode is best used for small blemishes in smooth, low detail areas, such as a small blemish on skin, or a small bird in the sky. It's limited to circular regions created with the Circle tool, and unlike cloning, it does not require that you to set a source.

Clone mode is the process of copying a part of an image in order to cover up a distracting or unwanted feature in your image. Cloning takes content from a source region and places it in the selected area.

Blemish mode combines smart healing with cloning. Because you can use the Circle, Polygon, or Curve Region tools and choose a source, Blemish mode is more versatile than Heal. The source area you choose is analyzed along with the selected area to produce more seamless coverage.

Blemish mode can be activated by selecting the Blemish Remover tool on the AfterShot toolbar (in blue) at the bottom of the screen.

Heal, Clone, Blemish Layer Examples



AfterShot Pro 3 Layers
A Second Example




Here's another example.

It was shot in April in Paris way back before the advent of digital cameras.  

This is a somewhat messy scan of the original picture - it does need a bit of tlc.

Among its many shortcomings, this picture is ...

  1. Lacking contrast.
  2. It's crooked.
  3. Out of focus.
  4. With a huge foreground.
  5. There's a lot of noise in the blue sky.
  6. A big nasty blemish.
  7. A bunch of small imperfections in the sky.




Notes On Cloning

When cloning (Circle, Clone or Polygon) with AfterShot Pro 3 each of them will appear as shown.

The black area to be cloned is outlined in black and the source area is outlined in red.  The default position for the red area is always at the lower right and the red area can be moved anywhere on the canvas.


The first 5 problems are easy to fix with a few simple adjustments ...

  • The Contrast was improved with Perfectly Clear (Standard Panel) and some Curves adjustments (Color Panel).
  • The crookedness was fixed with the Straightening Tool.
  • The Sharpening adjustment (in Standard Panel) improved the sharpness.
  • Noise in the sky was diminished with the Perfectly Clear Noise Removal (in the Detail Panel)
  • The Crop Tool was used to remove the very light foreground.

Now the image is ready to be cleaned up and remember this - AfterShot Pro 3 will only allow for 43 regions per image.

The large areas were cloned out using the Polygon Tool and all those nasty little dots were removed with the Circle Blemish Tool.  Here's how it looked after all of the healing/cloning.

When the Main Layer in the AfterShot Pro 3 Layer Manager is selected all of the little red indicators disappear while their adjustment remains.

Here's the Eiffel Tower after the last step and perking up the blue in the sky with Color Correction in the Color Panel and a slight Curves adjustment.

In the latter situation the AfterShot Pro 3 Layer Manager was used to restore an old scanned photo and it did a reasonably good job.

Give it a try ...

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